Thunderbirds are go!

I spent a fair bit of yesterday afternoon sorting out gear for next weekend’s trip. On Friday I will be heading for North Wales again. My track record for weather is not too good recently, so expect some more bad weather! I don’t really care as I just want to get away. It’s still difficult to believe that I’m giving up work. I feel a bit displaced.

Going back to the Carneddau is an easy option as I know the wild camping will be simple. There are limited route options, but I am going for a stroll rather than a serious trek. I could almost go without a map. This will be a taster for more adventurous endeavours later in the year. Two things I’m considering at the moment are a week in Scotland in May, probably in the West and a high level round in the Lakes in June. It’s also very tempting to go abroad somewhere in September.

As I know that people who read this blog are gearheads, I thought I’d let you know what I’m taking and some of the thoughts behind it.

Carrying: GG Mariposa Plus. Having used all my packs last year (Mariposa, Exos 58, Aether 60), I think the Mariposa is the the most comfortable and the best. I like the flexibility of the back system. With two flexible nylon rods, it seems to move in harmony with the body.  The Aether has a more sophisticated but similar system, which also feels comfortable. I’m quite interested in the Aarn system, which is also very flexible,  but resisted the urge to buy a Featherlite Freedom pack (online at Peglers at the moment). The Exos is much more rigid and just doesn’t feel as comfortable. It’s almost like being in a straight-jacket. I’ll be using an Integral Designs silnylon pack cover (76g) as the Mariposa holds quite a lot of water with all the mesh pockets, if it rains, which it almost certainly will. I will also be using my Inov-8 RacePro 200 belt pack (back to front) as usual for easy access for camera and bits and pieces. I’ve found this to be a much better system than chest pouches or hip belt pockets.

Shelter and sleeping: Scarp 1. It had to be. I’m looking forward to testing the Scarp. I’ll take the crossing poles but will try with and without. I have high hopes that this is the tent for outside summer (the DuoMid is the candidate for the summer tent). I’m taking my Pipedream 400 for my sleeping bag. It may not be quite up to the standards of Western Mountaineering or PHD but it’s quite close. For the first time I will use a Pod compression sack ( from I won’t compress it too far but it does reduce the bulk. I’ll be using the NeoAir mattress with patented silk cover ( 😉 ). Under my feet will be the NightLight pad from the Mariposa. I was really tempted to take my full length Downmat 7 but gram counting won.

Cooking: no changes here. Snow Peak GST 100 stove and Solo cook set. This is perfect for me. I might experiment with meths in the summer, but I love the convenience of gas. One innovation will be to decant my Real Turmat meals into individual Soup ‘n’ Sauce bags. The vacuum packed RT bags are awkward to pack, so re-bagging them should help.

Clothes. For the first time in ages, I will not be using Paramo. It’s a wrench, but I want to see how the alternatives stack up. I will be walking in a Patagonia R1 pullover (thanks Philip for pointing this one out) and a Montane Featherlite Jacket. The R1 feels really good around the house and for dog walking and seems to regulate my body temperature well. Legwear will either be Terra Pants or my old Berghaus Equilibrium pants. Warm wear will be the LIM Barrier plus a Gap gilet (I’ve ordered a down gilet from PHD in the sale, but doubt it will arrive in time). Waterproofs are the Montane Quickfire jacket and Berghaus Paclite Overtrousers. It will be interesting to see how I get on with a hard shell again.

Footwear:  Boots are Salomon Fastpackers, natch. Depending on conditions when I arrive, I may take a pair of Kahtoola Microspikes. I will take a pair of Chocolate Fish Merino/Possum socks as well as the normal merino socks. Fibre pile bivvy boots will provide the luxury at the end of the day.

Technology: iPhone of course for blogging, if I can get a signal. Lumix TZ5 camera. I’m also thinking of taking an Enova HD pocket video camera that I bought a while ago to take a video of all the mods I’ve made on the Scarp. I could even do a podcast with my Olympus voice recorder. We’ll see. I don’t think Bob need lose any sleep! I’m not taking a GPS as I’d like to try my iPhone as a GPS and quite frankly it is a bit superfluous.

That’s about it. I’ll be heading off on Friday morning, so watch out for those storms!

My hotel


8 thoughts on “Thunderbirds are go!”

  1. Sea to summit have made a long spoon out of aircraft alloy and weighing 11- 12 grams, possible contender for outdoorsgrub spoon. Although sea to summit is four times the price!!

  2. Like the thinking in trying different kit out on weekend trips. Then you know what will work on the big walks. West Coast in May is Scotland at its best. I am doing a coast to coast on the West at the end of May. Get up there Robin and enjoy those hills.

  3. Love the blog – thanks for taking the time! A question – Why do you need the R1 jacket AND the Haglöfs LIM Barrier top? And why the Montane Featherlight AND Quickfire…? I wild camp in a 100 weight Craghoppers fleece (which was cheap at Costco & does a great job) on top of a Smartwool LS top with a Haglöfs LIM Ozone jacket. I have a spare Smartwool for camp & I wear the fleece on top of that. Is one set (the “warm”) for camp…?

    1. Because the older I get the more I feel the cold! I once had the early stages of hypothermia and I don’t intend to repeat it. I like having a windproof jacket for breathability. I don’t like using a hard shell as a windproof. I also like to have one complete set of dry clothes just in case. It’s all down to personal preference. I always take too many clothes! (I’m also experimenting a bit 😉 )

      1. I’m doing the Tour do Mont Blanc in August with a mate but we’ll be staying in refuges so the Haglöfs Barrier would be a good high altitude, warm layer if not raining and/or good in the refuge at night if I fancy actually walking in a fleece. Thus, if buying one for that purpose, I may chuck it in my OMM Villain as “camp wear” – at 265g and DWR coated, it seems like a possible addition to my load. You’re right though – personal preference is the determining factor. In relation to a couple of views expressed about the Vaude (Scutum) Power Lizard – Bob at BPL has sent one by Fed Ex to me today so I am checking that out tomorrow (along with a Neo Air, Tibetan titanium pot and in-line filter for my Platypus). All this new kit saves me over 1kg on my former kit. Yippee…!!

      2. Sounds great. If you want to do a guest post review on the Power Lizard, let me know. I’m sure lots of people are interested.

      3. If you email me, I’ll send you my initial observations (done this morning – bless the iPhone) with pics & pitching crib-sheet and do an update when I’ve used it?

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